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Currently submitted to: JMIR Formative Research

Date Submitted: Jul 24, 2020
(currently open for review)

Warning: This is an author submission that is not peer-reviewed or edited. Preprints - unless they show as "accepted" - should not be relied on to guide clinical practice or health-related behavior and should not be reported in news media as established information.

Comparison of Facebook, GoogleAds, and Reddit for recruitment of people who considered but did not obtain abortion care in the United States: a cross-sectional survey

  • Heidi Moseson; 
  • Alexandra Wollum; 
  • Jane W. Seymour; 
  • Carmela Zuniga; 
  • Terri-Ann Thompson; 
  • Caitlin Gerdts; 



In the United States, abortion access is restricted by numerous logistical, financial, social, and policy barriers. Most research on abortion-seeking experiences in the United States has recruited participants from abortion clinics. However, clinic-based recruitment strategies fail to capture the experiences of people who considered abortion but did not make it to an abortion clinic. Research indicates that many people search for abortion information online; however, Internet-based recruitment remains underutilized in abortion research.


To establish the feasibility of Facebook, GoogleAds, and Reddit as recruitment platforms for a study about abortion-seeking experiences in the United States


Over one month, from September to October 2018, we posted recruitment advertisements for a survey about abortion-seeking experiences through Facebook, Google Ads, and Reddit. Eligible participants were US residents of reproductive age who had been pregnant in the past five years, and had considered but not obtained an abortion for a pregnancy in this period. For each platform, we recorded staff time to develop the advertisements and manage recruitment, as well as costs related to advertisement buys and social marketing firm support. We summarized the number of views and clicks for each advertisement where possible, and calculated metrics related to cost per recruited participant and recruitment rate by week for each platform. Differences across platforms were assessed with Chi-Square and Kruskal-Wallis tests.


Overall, study advertisements received 77,464 views in the 30 day period (from Facebook and Google; information not available for Reddit), and 2,808 study page views. After clicking on the advertisements, 1,254 people initiated the eligibility screening survey, which resulted in 75 eligible survey participants recruited from Facebook, 14 from Google Ads, and nine from Reddit. The ‘per eligible participant’ cost for each platform was $49.48 for Facebook, $265.93 for Google Ads, and $182.78 for Reddit. From Facebook, 85% who were deemed eligible completed the short survey, as compared to 73% among those recruited from Reddit, and 13% from Google Ads.


These results suggest that Facebook advertisements may be the most time- and cost-effective strategy to recruit people who have considered, but not obtained an abortion in the United States. Adapting and implementing Facebook-based recruitment strategies for research on abortion access could facilitate a more complete understanding of the barriers to abortion care in the United States. Clinical Trial: Not applicable


Please cite as:

Moseson H, Wollum A, Seymour JW, Zuniga C, Thompson T, Gerdts C

Comparison of Facebook, GoogleAds, and Reddit for recruitment of people who considered but did not obtain abortion care in the United States: a cross-sectional survey

JMIR Preprints. 24/07/2020:22854


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